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It was a dark and stormy dusk as I closed the door behind me and stepped outside into Irene’s raging floodwaters. “Here we go again.” The following morning, under a delightfully blue sky, with one hand on the doorknob and trepidation in my gut, I swallowed hard, opened the door and stepped inside.
It was as I feared. My recently renovated office was covered with brown, slimy and smelly goo. Slowly walking around the devastation, I knew there would be lots of thinking to do and decisions to make.
Three times over the last 40 years I’d tried to combine our local medical and dental facilities into one clinic…once when federal funds were available. Each of those times, the powers-that-were shot down my proposals. Undaunted, I persisted and established a dental clinic in our Mad River Valley.
As of today, however, “to be or not to be….that [would be] the question.” Can hard work and dreams just be washed away? Should, would, could I endure the inconvenience, time and expense of rebuilding, or just turn around and walk away? To be honest, at this stage of my life and career, taking on that much anxiety and debt was (and still is) unnerving; so, the latter was a temptation. But, consider the following:
· Each of my co-workers is a professional with unique personalities. He or she is dedicated, loyal, and always there for you and me. It’s a pleasure working alongside them and I want to continue this journey with them.
· With so many patients I’ve had the pleasure of providing care and sharing time while growing older and wiser together, how can I begin to thank all of you for the loyalty and confidence you’ve shown in me? Even after this huge setback, turning away is hardly a display of gratitude.
· As you may be aware, the American Heart Association, The American Diabetes Association, and other organizations have linked chronic inflammation to some very nasty and ultimately fatal systemic consequences. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, pancreatic cancer and low birth weight are some of these. It surprises me only that it took so long to realize the connection. It will not surprise me when more are added.
Our mouths are conduits for pathogenic microbes just waiting to enter and ambush our immune systems. Dental pathology is at the top of that list of preventable chronic inflammatory diseases. Without good oral health, being in good general health isn’t possible. For this reason, I strongly believe every community must have medical and dental health care facilities. In spite of what you are led to believe by insurance companies, our medical and dental systems are physiologically interdependent. We are single and whole organisms.
Many of you have asked what I will do? It would have been so much easier to retire, but out of appreciation for my employees and patients, positive feedback from so many of you, dedication to our community, and my belief in the importance of dental health, I will rebuild Valley Dental Associates. Unfortunately, this will require a substantial investment of time and capital, but how can I put a price on the health of my friends, neighbors and patients? In spite of this setback, the decision was obvious and came easily.
Demolition and planning stages have been completed. As you can imagine, everyone in the construction industry is overwhelmed, but mitigation and reconstruction will begin next week. If everything goes according to schedule, we hope and plan to welcome you approximately 8 to 10 weeks from now. All of us at Valley Dental Associates will return in a new state-of-the-art facility to provide for you, as has always been our mission statement, better than the standard of care.
Drs. Cassandra Lansky, Richard Herbert and Ryan Goslin have been extremely kind and generous by offering us the limited use of their facilities to provide emergency treatment and continuing care for our patients. Thank you to each of them.
We look forward to working with smiles. Thank you, too, for being such patient patients.
Stephen Zonies, DMD, lives in Fayston.